The 67-year-old Sabre Room banquet hall, a landmark building located at 8900 W. 95th St. in Hickory Hills, held its last events on Saturday and Sunday, before shutting its doors for the last time.
The family-owned business was founded by Arnold and Marie Muzzarelli in 1949, on the 30-acre site of the luxury Dynell Spring Spa dating back to the 1920s. In recent years, it was known for holding wedding receptions, New Year’s Eve parties, quinceaneras and other social events in its various rooms.
But in its heyday, with space for up to 2,500 people, it was a popular concert venue for top stars such as Frank Sinatra in 1976, and Dean Martin in 1977. Liberace, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour and Rudy Vallee all appeared there over the years as well.
The Muzzarellis, who lived upstairs, had made the connections necessary to draw the top acts through their previous training at the Ambassadors East Hotel and Pump Room in downtown Chicago. It helped that the Sabre Room encompassed 100,000 square feet of space, and acres of parking.
“I’m sorry to see it go. But I suppose it had to happen eventually. I have a lot of great memories there,” said Ald. Tom McAvoy (3rd Ward), whose ward includes the property.
He said he didn’t see Sinatra and the other big names, but he was there for plenty of weddings and other occasions.
“I never got a chance to meet Arnold Muzzarelli (who died in 1992), but I had the pleasure of meeting his wife, Marie. She was there, working the phone until she was 90,” said McAvoy. When Marie Muzzarelli died in 2010, at 90, the business was passed on to their children, Arnold Jr., and daughters, Janice and Yvonne.
The general manager, Art Golden, the current treasurer of the Hills Chamber of Commerce, had started working there when he was 15, in the 1970s.
“I wish Art the best of luck. He was there so much, he was all the time,” said McAvoy of Golden, who could not be reached for comment this week.
Worth residents Ed and Maggie Palenik are also sad to see the Sabre Room close, having worked there themselves as bartenders and waitstaff over the years, and just helping out where they could. Their daughters worked there also in recent years.
“We knew the Muzzarellis well. They lived upstairs. It was always a very well-run business. A lot of history went on there, and a lot of events were still held there, but just on a smaller scale. Just like the Martinique and other places like it that also closed, everything from the taxes, and gas bills and electric bills just got to be too much. And there were illnesses in the family too.”
McAvoy said that a developer is interested in the property, but he could not go into any details because everything is still in the preliminary stages.
“What happens there is very important to me and my co-alderman, Brian Fonte,” said McAvoy, who also represents the 3rd Ward.
“With 30 acres, it might be one of the biggest developments in Hickory Hills since the 1960s,” he said.
“It is going to be a planned-use development, so it won’t be broken up into different parcels,” said McAvoy.
“But it is going to be a long process. The developer still has to get planning permission, of course, and present plans before the full City Council. It is going to take months. No meetings are scheduled yet, but we’ll expect big crowds when they are held,” he said.